Managing a summer of sportsNatalie Lewis
It’s all about Flexibility during a Summer of Sports
With major sporting events such as the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final, and the Commonwealth Games, this summer is set to be dominated by sport. With sporting fever sweeping the nation, it is inevitable that employees will want to join in and watch some of the action. So, how are you going to manage this to win hearts and minds and use it to your advantage for employee engagement?
The main issues business owners could face are:
- Increased requests for annual leave for the same day/week
- Increased sickness absence
- Increased sporting websites and social media usage during working hours
- Possible decrease in productivity (or an increase if you manage things well!)
Let’s face it, if your team are interested in sports and have been lucky enough to get tickets for the women’s football final and/or the Commonwealth Games, they will want time off to attend. Sport brings people together but with warm weather and alcohol, sporting events can be disruptive with more people suffering from hangovers, tiredness or even over-indulgence of the sunshine. On the other hand, they can be great for building relationships and creating a sense of camaraderie if managed well.
How to take advantage of this summer of sports
Flexibility from both employers and employees throughout the summer period will be vital for a productive business and an engaged workforce. As an employer, you should consider how to deal with issues such as competing requests for time off, sickness absence and distracted employees.
Many employees place great importance on the ability to follow major sporting events, and enabling them to do so can be an effective way of increasing employee morale, winning hearts and minds and increasing employee engagement.
Firstly, dig out your current annual leave policy which may provide guidance on how time should be booked off and how to deal with competing requests for time off.
You could choose to operate on a ‘first come, first served’ basis or draw names out of a hat, whichever you choose, you must let employees know that this is how the business intends to manage holiday requests.
Your business’ sickness absence policy will still apply during this period and should be operated consistently and fairly for all staff. Monitor attendance levels – any unauthorised absence or unusual patterns should be dealt with. You may also wish to monitor lateness due to post sporting event hangovers! Make it clear to employees what you expect of them during this time, and perhaps operate a more relaxed working day.
Often businesses don’t wish to come across as too dictatorial in their approach to sporting events. One way to overcome this is to consider allowing employees to have a flexible working day when they can come in a little later or finish earlier, and agree a time in which they can make up these hours. Shift swaps or taking breaks at sporting event times are also good options.
It is important to be fair and consistent with all staff if you allow additional benefits during the Summer of sports. Any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be agreed and communicated before the event.
TV & Radio
Consider providing a TV or radio if it wouldn’t cause too much of a disturbance but bear in mind not everyone is a sports fan!
Websites and social media
There will be those employees who will be glued to their phones, tablets and PCs in order to follow sport on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or TV websites. You should set clear rules on whether employees can use these sites in order to follow the sporting events. Monitoring employee performance would be encouraged, and a drop in performance should be discussed in an adult to adult manner.
Drinking or being under the influence at work
Some people may like to have a drink or two whilst watching sport or they may go to the pub to watch a sporting event live. If this is during lunch breaks or pre-shift, they may be under the influence when back in work.
Make it clear to employees what your policy is on alcohol in the workplace and if you have a zero-tolerance approach due to health and safety concerns, be very clear that anyone caught drinking at work or found to be under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures up to and including dismissal.
The main advice I can provide is to enjoy this summer of sports but where necessary, set non-discriminatory rules and communicate these to your staff. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me for a chat.